OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy – 79th Session

The 79th session of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy which will take place at the OECD Headquarters

July 1-2, 2019

Paris, France

The Deputy Secretary-General responsible for the Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), Mr. Ulrik Knudsen, and the Director for STI, Mr. Andrew Wyckoff, will report on the main developments in the Directorate and at the OECD and beyond, which are of interest to the Committee.

Going Digital project

The Committee will be updated on the outcomes of the Going Digital Summit held on 11-12 March 2019, including the launches of the Going Digital synthesis report Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives, the companion report Measuring the Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for the Future and the Going Digital toolkit, as well as proposed outreach activities to promote the work.

Artificial Intelligence

The Committee will be updated on progress made regarding the adoption of the Council Recommendation on AI and the publication of the analytical report on Artificial Intelligence. It will also be requested to approve the declassification of DSTI/CDEP(2019)1, which includes the proposal by the AIGO experts group to the CDEP.

OECD Working Party on Measurement & Analysis of the Digital Economy

OECD Working Party on Measurement and Analysis of the Digital Economy

Paris, France

May 6-7 2019

OECD Headquarters

Topics for discussion will include:

  • Measuring the Digital Transformation: a measurement roadmap for the future
  • Going Digital Toolkit
  • Measuring the diffusion of Artificial Intelligence related technologies in business
  • AI concepts and definitions
  • Measuring AI diffusion in practice
  • Measuring Trust
  • Using the Internet as a data-source to Measure the Digital Transformation
  • Business ICT usage survey microdata analysis
  • Making the Digital Economy visible in economic statistics
  • Measuring and valuing data and data flows
  • Information items and other business

Member country delegates and BIAC should register for the meeting through their Paris-based delegations. Other participants should contact the OECD Secretariat to register (Marion.Barberis@oecd.org and Celia.Valeani@oecd.org)

USCIB Participates in UNCTAD E-Commerce Week in Geneva

USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl

Last week, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl attended E-Commerce Week hosted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. The theme of the week was “From Digitalization to Development” and included over 1400 participants from government, private sector, and civil society from around the world. Many of the thematic sessions addressed negotiations of an e-Commerce agreement expected to begin soon at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Seventy-six WTO members, accounting for 90% of global trade in electronic commerce, endorsed the negotiation of a high-standard agreement in January of 2019 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. USCIB supports these negotiations and is looking forward to a high-standard outcome on digital trade issues affecting business.

The UNCTAD meetings also included several sessions of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy, which Hampl joined as a member of the Digital Trade Network (DTN), making substantive contributions on issues of data flows and localization policies.

“Given the broad UN membership, there continues to be push-back from certain countries to UNCTAD engaging on this issue,” reported Hampl. “UNCTAD leadership, however, made it clear in various meetings that there is broad support for negotiations on electronic commerce moving ahead at the WTO, and on general work on digital trade moving forward. This positive momentum is also shared by the WTO, where the work is progressing, and expected to move forward this year.”

APEC Workshop Emphasizes Crucial Role of Business

L-R: Matías Pinto Pimente (Embassy of Chile), Monica Hardy Whaley (NCAPEC) at APEC Essentials Workshop

USCIB partnered with the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) and C&M International to host an APEC Essentials workshop on March 27 to help participants understand the fundamentals of APEC including its history, objectives and opportunities. The event, which attracted approximately 80 attendees, featured practical case studies led by industry discussants on how several sectors approach priority issues and leverage the APEC platform.

Private sector participation in APEC is organized under the leadership of the NCAPEC, which serves as the designated 2019 U.S. Strategic Partner for the CEO Summit, Secretariat to the U.S. members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and as Chair and Secretariat of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson makes remarks at the APEC Essentials Workshop

“APEC is an incubator where economies and business can come together in a non-competitive, mutually supportive way,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave welcoming remarks and moderated one of the panels. “APEC member economies do not need to worry about binding treaties but indirectly they can influence what’s going on in the world, such as in customs and trade and environmental goods. APEC sets an example. Too many international organizations are shutting out the private sector. APEC welcomes the private sector and other stakeholders and that’s one of the reasons it gets things done.”

USCIB addressed a number of issues through APEC to advance discussions across a range of issues including chemicals regulation, advertising self-regulation, data privacy, customs and digital trade. USCIB members and staff have engaged in several APEC working groups, including the Chemical Dialogue, APEC Business-Customs Dialogue, Customs Procedures Virtual Working Group, Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity, the Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup.

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation lead Megan Giblin, alongside Customs colleagues

The program featured Matías Pinto Pimente, head of the economic department and trade commissioner at the Embassy of Chile in Washington DC; Emily Fischer, principal APEC coordinator, economic policy advisor, U.S. Department of State; Jillian DeLuna, director for APEC affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Monica Hardy Whaley, president, National Center for APEC; and Ambassador Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive, Crowell & Moring International; Partner, Crowell & Moring; former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.

Chile will host this year’s APEC meetings.

USCIB Gathers Stakeholders to Discuss OECD Digital Project 

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at the 2019 Going Digital Conference

The OECD Summit on Going Digital, held March 11-12 in Paris, presented the main findings and policy messages of the OECD’s two-year Going Digital Project. In light of this milestone, USCIB teamed up with the OECD and Business at OECD to organize an event in Washington DC on March 25 bringing together over fifty representatives from U.S. government, the private sector and press to discuss outcomes and next steps.

The March 25 Conference, hosted by the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment and Policy, introduced the Going Digital Toolkit and included in-depth discussions on indicators, experiences and innovative policy practices, particularly as they relate to economic growth and societal well-being, privacy, security against cyber-threats, as well as harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for economic and social prosperity.

Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Business at OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy Julie Brill gave opening remarks, praising the OECD project. “The global digital project will serve as a foundation for policymakers around the world to ensure that the technological revolution is a catalyst for inclusive growth that benefits all,” said Brill. “The timing couldn’t be more appropriate or more important.”

Common themes that emerged among panelists and participants included emphasis on economies to invest in people through increased access to STEM training, innovative use of apprenticeships and skills-based training and retraining programs to ensure that the work force is adaptable and is prepared for the challenges of the future. There was also consensus on the need to reduce barriers to promote AI innovation and application to realize more of the potential of AI in providing new opportunities and even creating new sectors of industries. At the same time, governments need to establish principles to ensure public trust and confidence in AI technologies.

“The OECD undertook the Going Digital Project at a time when other multilateral organizations and individual countries were responding to the digital transformation of the economy in a way that undermined the potential economy and societal benefits,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy. “USCIB members appreciate how the OECD has navigated the plethora of conflicting views and developed sound, evidence-based recommendations that can guide countries and organizations to benefits of digital innovation. We look forward to shaping the all-important Phase 2 of the project, which will focus on practical steps.”

OECD’s Andy Wyckoff

Other speakers at the conference included OECD Director for Science Technology and Innovation Andy Wyckoff, Director for International Communications, Information, and Emerging Technologies from the U.S. Department of State Adam Lusin as well as The White House Assistant Director for Artificial Intelligence, Office of Science and Technology Lynne Parker.

The day-long event titled, Going Digital: OECD Insights for a Changing World, was dedicated to the late Joseph Alhadeff and commemorated his decades-long leadership and contribution to the ICT space both domestically and globally. Alhadeff was a long-time USCIB supporter, colleague and mentor who served on the USCIB Board and was a Vice Chair of the USCIB ICT Policy Committee for over 15 years.

Going Digital: OECD Insights for a Changing World

ICT Conference – “Going Digital: OECD Insights for a Changing World”

Co-sponsored by The USCIB Foundation, Inc.

March 25, 2019

Washington DC

AT&T Forum For Technology, Entertainment & Policy

Wanner Shares Perspectives on OECD Going Digital Summit

USCIB and nearly 20 member company representatives, under the aegis of Business at OECD (BIAC), joined 600+ OECD members and stakeholders at the Going Digital Summit, March 11-12 in Paris, which showcased a two-year project to examine digital transformation across all sectors of the economy. This ambitious horizontal endeavor, involving 14 OECD committees, undertook a largely evidence-based and holistic approach to considering both the economic and societal benefits and challenges of the evolving digital ecosystem.

The Summit presented the main findings and policy messages included in the final synthesis report, Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives, an accompanying measurement report, Measuring the Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for the Future, and offered a first look at the Going Digital Toolkit web portal. The latter is designed “for policy and diagnosis,” in the words of OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, to help countries assess their state of digital economic development and formulate appropriate policy responses.

The event was organized to reflect the seven pillars of the OECD’s Going Digital integrated policy framework, i.e., enhancing access, increasing effective use, unleashing innovation, ensuring jobs, promoting social prosperity, strengthening trust, and fostering market openness.

“During the past year, USCIB members and BIAC colleagues played an influential role shaping development and refinement of this integrated policy framework, which highlights the inter-related nature of the policy dimensions and underscores the need for coordination to make digital transformation work for prosperity,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner who attended the meetings in Paris.

The Global Trade Talks Nobody’s Talking About

Nick Ashton Hart

This column is written by Nick Ashton Hart, Geneva representative of the Digital Trade Network, which is supported by USCIB, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) amongst others. Nick has helped forge new paths forward at the WTO on digital trade rules, and works directly with the 76 WTO Members who have just begun negotiation of a digital trade agreement at the World Trade Organization.

At the December 2017 WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires, 71 countries made a political declaration to begin discussing new global rules to facilitate the expansion of the digital economy beneficial to both developed and developing countries. Thanks to intensive work by those countries in 2018, on January 29, on the margins of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, 76 countries (notably including the US, EU, and China) announced the launch of formal negotiations.

All the major economies, most of the G20, and many smaller states are all taking part, including some of the world’s poorest countries. In total the vast majority of the world’s economy is at the table. Since it is estimated that the digital economy underpins approximately one-third of global GDP – and rising – this is a negotiation that will impact industry everywhere – and people everywhere.

You would think that so important a negotiation would have created a very large increase in the level of engagement by the private sector across the board – in capitals and in Geneva. If you think that, you would be wrong: many delegations are surprised that entire economic sectors are not engaged despite the potential ramifications on their businesses. The Ambassadors of some of the world’s largest economies tell me that their ministry is not hearing from the private sector in the capital, or they are hearing only generalities and not the specifics necessary to create negotiating positions. The intensity of activity by the private sector in Geneva is also not much different now than it was in 2017, or 2016 or 2015. To give you an example of how serious the problem is, almost half of the written submissions to the talks during 2018 reference financial services – yet many Ambassadors say they cannot remember the last time a representative from a bank came to see them.

The private sector’s limited engagement could be explained by the fact that their limited pool of experts are busy elsewhere trying to prevent a trade war or keep their companies out of escalating tariffs. The relative newness of the talks could also explain it.  Whatever the reason, for me to hear increasingly frustrated ambassadors across countries at all levels of development asking me ‘where is business and when will they tell us in specific what they need and why’ when a negotiation has already started is, frankly, worrying, especially given that the participating 76 states have agreed to table proposals by mid-April of this year with the objective of having a draft agreement by the end of July. While in my view that timeline is likely to slip, clearly time is of the essence.

WTO delegations are looking at some of the world’s most important economic questions, such as:

  • What can trade policy do to help narrow the “digital divide” (connecting the half of humanity not yet online)
  • Will data flows be protected from trade distorting interference – interference which is presently growing globally – and how will the need to ensure other public policy priorities like the protection of personal information be factored in?
  • Should the moratorium on applying customs duties to digital goods be made permanent?
  • How can trade rules help the spread of mobile financial services to close the financial inclusion gap? (almost two billion people do not have access to financial services)
  • What can trade policy do to foster consumer and business trust in purchasing goods and services across borders?
  • How can trade rules promote use of digital contracts, adoption of digital signatures and customs and logistics processes, and make trade finance easier to get and use, all to help SMEs trade more?

The trade policy community needs and deserves the best advice both in Geneva and in national capitals as they work to answer these big questions. The answers could profoundly benefit not just commerce but everyone. But as I have so often heard from delegations – and I have often said it myself – if countries don’t understand what’s in it for their economies in adopting new rules to promote digital trade, they won’t. The private sector has a critical role to play in making that case. So far, frankly, it is failing to do that effectively enough.

Meanwhile non-governmental organisations that are skeptical, or opposed, to any new rules for the digital economy are both well-organised and very active in Geneva and international capitals. This statement will be released on April 1, signed by a very large number of NGOs, on the first day of the biggest digital-trade event of the year in Geneva, UNCTAD’s Ecommerce Week. You can find a large collection of NGOs have been active for many years on-the-ground and there are several people employed in Geneva just on trade policy advocacy generally opposed to any new trade rules related to the digital economy. Meanwhile, the only dedicated industry person in Geneva on digital trade is myself.

Opportunities like these negotiations don’t come by very often in international affairs: time is short. The private sector has been asking for new rules for online trade for years. Now is the time for it to make clear what it needs and why in enough detail and invest in helping countries at all levels of development understand why it matters to them … or watch the opportunity slip away.

Nick Ashton-Hart is the Geneva representative of the Digital Trade Network.

You can follow him at @nashtonhart.

An earlier version of this column appeared on the Council of Foreign Relations website at: 

https://www.cfr.org/blog/global-trade-talks-digital-economy-nobodys-talking-about.

At B20, Robinson Stresses Need for International Cooperation

Peter Robinson at the B20 in Japan

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was in Japan the week of March 11 for the B20 Summit, alongside other business leaders such as John Denton, secretary general and Paul Polman, chair of the International Chamber of CommercePhil O’Reilly, chair and Russell Mills, secretary general of Business at OECD, as well as Erol Kiresepi, chairman of the International Organization of Employers.

Robinson spoke on a panel titled, “Global Economy for All: International Cooperation for Global Governance.” In his remarks, Robinson proposed looking at international cooperation from two perspectives: strengthening global institutions and rules, while also encouraging bottom-up approaches and a general spirit of cooperation, rather than confrontation, in international economic relations.

“For the foreseeable future, we will need to accept that many electorates and governments view the world through a more nationalistic, mercantilist lens,” said Robinson. “We need to demonstrate the value in international cooperation, not just through new binding rules and official structures, but through voluntary, bottom-up initiatives. Efforts such as the Paris Climate Agreement, or the plurilateral agreements being pursued by WTO members on several issues including digital trade, should be welcomed and encouraged.”

Throughout the course of the panel, Robinson also touched upon trade conflicts with China, WTO modernization, and the need to radically reform education, job training and retraining approaches around the world.

Robinson also called out climate change as being a crucial long-term global challenge. “Climate impacts everything – economic growth, jobs, health care, where people live,” stressed Robinson. “We therefore need to view climate and energy policy in a more holistic manner.”

The Japan Times covered the B20 and quoted Robinson in their piece, “At B20 in Tokyo, World Business Leaders Urge Stronger Cooperation on Looming Challenges.” The Japan Times quoted Robinson emphasizing that “The American business community still believes in open trade, globalization and multilateralism.”

Robinson also applauded the B20’s prioritization of adoption and dissemination of artificial intelligence to ensure that AI development deployment remains “human-centric”. This issue will be a big focus of the digital economy conference that USCIB is organizing with Business at OECD (BIAC) and the OECD on March 25 in Washington, DC.